A look at what some riders and readers are saying about Metro's fare change proposal

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Option2

As I dearly hope that you’ve heard by now, Metro is proposing a fare increase and changes in order to keep pace with rising costs. A public hearing will be held this Saturday, March 29, at 9:30 a.m. in the Board room at Metro headquarters adjacent to Union Station.

The two options proposed by Metro staff are above for those who have not yet seen them. The Metro Board is scheduled to vote on the fare changes at its meeting on May 22; the Metro Board may ask for changes to the fare proposals before voting on them. There is also more information about the changes on metro.net.

The following are comments from riders gleamed from various websites, including this blog. I think this is a good chance to see what people are saying while highlighting the agency’s response, as well as my own thoughts. Here goes:

ON OPTION 2 — OFF-PEAK VERSUS PEAK HOUR FARES

Sheriff Bart at Curbed LA: “Charging more for “rush hour” commuting is one way to help keep people in their cars….what a stupid idea. Eliminating transfer fees within a 90-min window is an idea way past due.”

The idea behind the second option was too look at a fare system that would encourage customers with more flexible schedules to ride outside of the rush hour, when seats are in the most demand and often completely filled on many buses and trains.

I’m certainly aware the second option has been criticized by others who also say the increases are too steep. Again, please keep in mind that the Metro Board of Directors has the discretion to choose either option and to make changes to those options before voting to approve one of the two options.

ON FARE EVASION AND THE NEED FOR NEW FARES

impoundguy at the L.A. Times: Heres a better idea…instead of raising the fares on those who actually PAY to ride…how about getting a little more proactive and coming up with a system that catches the MANY who ride and don’t pay!

There are actually a couple of issues here. The first is the desire of many of our riders to see an increased crackdown on fare evasion. Metro officials say that’s already happening across the system. The Metro Board has also instructed agency staff to provide the Board of cost estimates and other issues involved with installing gates at rail stations that don’t have them. That includes the three rail projects currently under construction, the Crenshaw/LAX Line, Expo Line Phase 22 and the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

The other obvious question is how much money Metro loses to fare evasion. That is currently unknown — tracking fare evasion is difficult because many riders have valid fare cards but don’t always tap them on validators, according to the agency. This much is known: the average fare for Metro is 70 cents. Metro officials say that that money lost to fare evasion plus the money for additional security to lower the fare evasion rate would not cover the increased operating costs and budget deficits that Metro is facing in the future.

ON THE 90-MINUTE TRANSFER TIME

Ken W at Human Transit: Another comment that had me thinking twice was that this “free transfers within 90 minutes” is not what it’s cut out to be. The travel time on buses are reliant on street traffic conditions, so going from point A to transfer point is highly dependent on street traffic. And there are also constant delays on our Metro Rail system, especially the Blue and Expo Lines, added to the fact that when you TAP at the validator, it has no correlation to the time that the train actually pulls into the station. You could be waiting as much as 30 minutes on the platform after TAP, not moving, just standing, so you realistically have only 60 minutes to make it to the transfer point, pending no delays.

Both options would include free transfers within 90 minutes. The 90 minutes are from the time you first tap your TAP card on a bus’ farebox or at a rail station’s TAP validators until the time you make your last tap. For example, if you board a bus or train one hour and 29 minutes after first tapping, that’s perfectly valid as part of your original fare.

There are two statistics from Metro staff that are relevant. The first is that according to the latest Metro customer surveys, 63 percent of riders do transfer to complete their journey. As of 2011, 94 percent of Metro trips were completed within 90 minutes, according to a comprehensive rider survey held that year.

The survey defines a trip as the time between the first tap and last tap. There remains, of course, the issue of what happens during major delays — especially ones that equipment related — when a trip that would normally take (for example) an hour instead takes 90 minutes or more. I suspect that’s something that will come up during Board discussions.

ON THE COST OF FARES AND TRANSFERS

Zcvzcvcvxcvzcv at Curbed LA: “Raise it to $2 and make free transfers… I would be in favor of a higher rail price than bus price but that doesn’t seem to be on the table.”

***

Poo Ping Palace at Curbed LA: “$1.75 a ride is still a bargain in 2014…[SNIP]…A poor person can afford $3 a day for transportation to/from work, but not $3.50 a day? Really? Chances are, with a 90-min transfer policy in effect, even at $2 a ride many poor commuters will actually save money compared to today.”

***

ImpatientMike at Curbed LA: “$9 Day Pass!!?? Bye Bye, Metro. Hello car. I’m for modest increases in fares but public trans in general needs more tax subsidies. It’s true that lots of poor people would get really pinched by this.”

***

shanedphillips at Curbed LA: “I’m all for the fare increase tied to more logical transfer policies. I’m not sure why day pass cost increases matter, that seems like a tourist thing regardless. If transfers are free, why would you need a day pass when you can just pay for 2 or 3 independent trips over the course of a day? [SNIP] And coming from Seattle, I can’t help but laugh at people complaining about the increase. Fares there are almost double what they are here, and service really isn’t any better.But as far as the rush hour increased charges, that seems backward. It’s hard to predict the consequences, but it seems like it would be just as likely to get people to drive (perhaps during off-peak hours) as anything. And maybe more importantly, rush hour is when bus service is best, both in terms of frequency and for access to bus-only lanes. Discouraging people from using it at those times seems like a horrible idea.”

***

Say banana at Curbed LA: “I agree with the new Metro fare proposal. New fare is fair. The only thing that I find stupid in the proposal is the daily pass. If it is $1.75 for 90 mins of free transfers = $7 for four 90 min uses. A daily pass is going to $7. No savings unless you plan to use it constantly throughout the day. The same price for $2 or $2.25. The day pass should be less than 4 trips total and more than the daily rate of a weekly pass. I hope Metro changes the routes for more super rapid routes (like the commuter express) and more very local routes centered around rail lines (like the dash).”

***

Voiceofsanity at Curbed LA: “Empty buses and trains cannot be subsidized by the taxpayers, and users of Metro system must pay their share. Metro needs to institute fair use pricing (these increases are not enough), with discounted weekly/monthly tickets, and a heavily discounted program for low income individuals who prove their income.”

***

Ridethebus at Curbed LA: “Los Angeles is a city where the majority of people still do not take transit. I think we should keep transit not just affordable, but strongly competitive versus driving in order to convert more people to transit (congestion, air quality benefits), Given the benefits, I believe introducing a congestion relief tax or county fuel tax to fund transit operations, boosting filming/ad revenue, and allowing stores in stations for rent would be much better funding sources than hiking fares like this.”

***

Rdm24 at Long Beach Post: “”We looked at our whole fare structure and said, is this really fair to our riders?” Metro spokesman Marc Littman told the L.A. Times. We actually penalize our passengers for trying to use the system more efficiently.” I am thrilled to see him recognize this, but I am flabbergasted they didn’t realize their transfer policy was broken from the start.”

***

ubrayj02 at L.A. Streetsblog: “I don’t understand how Metro builds these expensive train and bus stations that are 100% auto-dominated, with vast parking lagoons, with no bathrooms, and no on-site concessions and then (surprisingly) can’t recover enough money to pay for their operations. Ever tried to buy an ad with Metro? Small locally owned companies need not apply. Ever tried to open a concession with Metro? Don’t even bother. Ever tried to go to the bathroom on Metro? Just find a stairwell or elevator. How about a lower bar for bus and train ads? How about some manned pay toilets? How about some mom & pop newsagents and food vendors at stations that can support them? How about making Metro stations human-scale and commerce friendly? How about charging for parking in all those Metro lots? How about re-orienting your stations to the pedestrian and not the motorist? Instead of cutting operations, focus intensely on getting parasitic freeway driving commuters to see transit as viable – cut freeway services! Cut the free towing, cut the office building full of highway engineers. How much “fare box” recovery or sales tax is being generated for Metro through these horrible road widenings and freeway projects? I am willing to bet everything I own that they are worse money losers than nearly every transit project in Metro right now in terms of their “fare box recovery.”

There are several issues raised. I’ll try to tackle each:

•Metro staff do not want to create separate fares for buses and trains. The idea is to keep the fares the same in order to encourage the most efficient use of the transit network — if it’s faster to take a train, Metro wants people to take the train rather than stay on a slower bus.

•On that note, a word about distance-based fares, which are frequently discussed on this blog’s comments board. Metro staff say that distance-based fares pose several difficult challenges, namely that Metro currently doesn’t ask bus riders to tap out and that many Metro Rail stations lack gates that serve as a good reminder for people to tap out.

•The people most likely to save money from the proposed fare changes would be those who currently use a $5 day pass to get to and from a single destination over the course of a day (i.e. going from home to work and back). The fare for some of those riders under the first option would be $3.50 a day (two $1.75 fares), a savings of $1.50 over the current day pass. Of course, that’s assuming they can tap in to all segments of their journey within 90 minutes.

•The increases for pass holders reflects the fact that they are heaviest users of the system, according to Metro officials. Under the proposals, day passes would most likely be used by those who intend to travel a lot on Metro at many different hours of the day.

•As for comments about improving rail station environments and making rent money from stations, I think that’s fair criticism to some degree — retail is lacking at most Metro Rail stations. In some cases, that’s because of lack of space but there do seem to be stations that could accommodate businesses or something to help energize them. However, I remain skeptical that revenues from vendors or mom-n-pop shops on Metro property would be enough to cover the enormous cost of running a vast bus-rail system without occasional fare increases.

•The decision in 2008 to get rid of transfers was done, in part, to discourage fraud that was taking place at the time (i.e. people selling phony transfers or transfers they didn’t need) and to try to recapture some lost revenue. Others have argued — in particular, transportation planner Jarrett Walker — that the ability to transfer is an integral part of creating an efficient transit network.

40 replies

  1. Maybe if they had more rail options and didnt make us wait ten + years for only a few added miles to the already far behind light rail systems people wouldn’t feel as ripped off by this as they already do. Many people need to take almost 3 buses or trains to get where they are going. From one side of downtown to the other already takes two trains. We need to get with the times already. Been talking about the 2nd phase of the easide extension since 2008.

  2. Monthly passes will be going up to anywhere from $100-$125?!

    And here I thought the last increase from $62 to $75 was a lot. Why is that so high?

  3. As one of the ‘walking poor’ who has suffered greatly during the recession, any increase in fares simply dissuades me from using the system regularly. The difference between $3.00 and $3.50 for a round trip actually would BE a determining factor often, as even the current price has been. I do not own a car and have not for the greater part of the past decade. I have depended upon the system for transportation beyond the distance of my ability to bike, and increases, even modest ones, will effect my own use – and the use of many of my fellow bus riders who are in a similar situation.
    As fuel prices rapidly approach the $5.00 per gallon mark, the incentive for people to stop using their cars is great with the current ‘bargain’ for a day pass – and the Metro system and MTA will only benefit by keeping the price less than that. The determining factor will always be cost-efficiency to the average consumer/rider/driver…but it is ALWAYS the consideration of someone who simply canNOT afford ANY increase –
    and we exist.

  4. Stolen transfers was a huge problem . Even when transfers were secured properly according to MTA guidelines snatching transfers and running out the door could not be prevented. In addition since there was never Operator/Passenger interaction on rail lines transfers were not available using that mode. Instead of using the Pull and Rip Transfer Books method that was used for many years perhaps a dispenser using cash register tape may be the answer. With Operator input at the beginning of the line all the important information could be printed including 90 minutes from the time of issuance. Perhaps a self help dispenser could be utilized on rail.

    Fares on MTA are lower than any other major property in the U.S. Municipals in the Los Angeles area like Santa Monica, Culver City, etc. have traditionally received a higher subsidy per passenger than the MTA awards it self. I believe the formula is the MTA carries 80% of all passengers using public transit but only receives 60% subsidy per passenger. This is because agencies like Santa Monica could not maintain their service and the lower fares they charge. Also most of the municipals or perhaps all do not offer 24 hour service. Most cut off their last bus at 12 midnight. If one observes MTA’s all night service on lines like the “4” which utilizes articulated buses late at night they would see standing loads.

    Different fares at different times may sound like a good idea but can only lead to conflicts between the Operators and passengers especially if the bus is running late or a bus is missing on the line. It’s been tried previously and it didn’t work. Same fares 24/7 will work the best without conflict or question. Perhaps scrapping the multi fare concept would enable the MTA to extend the projected times between fare increases.

  5. I’m sorry raising the fees for the bus is a stupid ideal you mean to tell me Metro want to raise fairs over providing better service for those who takes public transportation. You have metro encouraging to take public transit yet we got drivers who aren’t on time, Buses breaking down left and right, and other stuff that regarding bus safety yet the ONLY thing they can think of is raising the fare?! You’re really hurting us out here.

  6. Steve,

    You’re missing the big picture when you say “revenues from vendors or mom-n-pop shops on Metro property would be enough to cover the enormous cost of running a vast bus-rail system without occasional fare increases.”

    Illegal vendors which are ripe in the system today DO NOT COLLECT SALES TAXES.

    But demand for retailers and merchants at stations are high, that’s why there are illegal vendors. People do not want just a “pass through” environment. They want to do something while they wait for the train. You know, like buy periodicals, flowers, a gift, a whatever as they do their commute?

    When you wait for the bus at a bus stop and there’s a 7-Eleven nearby what do people do? They kill time at the 7-Eleven reading magazines, buying candy, snacks, and what not!

    And what does 7-Eleven do that illegal vendors don’t? THEY COLLECT SALES TAXES!

  7. The only big issue I have with the 90-minute transfer is what about routes that have long running times? If memory serves me right, when we had paper transfers, the expiration was set at 60 minutes or so at the last timepoint on the trip. Take the 2 from Palasades to Vermont.. That’s almost 2 hours of running time right there. Don’t do what Phoenix did, have a different day pass fare if you buy the pass on the bus vs. if you buy it in advance or a TVM.

  8. Besides, the argument that you say is lame. It’s like saying “it costs $100 million dollars or whatever to operate Metro annually, let’s not do something that could help bring in $1 million in extra revenue into the system that could help us.” And before you nitpick about it I’m using these numbers as an example to explain the picture.

    Renting out spaces and bringing in additional sales tax revenue is more than a good reason to do this. Will it cover everything? No, of course not. But it helps Metro lock in more revenue to reduce taxpayer dependency. If Metro can reduce taxpayer dependency by earning $1 million on their own, that’s $1 million less that can go to Metro which could go to other places like education or road repairs.

    So why shouldn’t something that helps create jobs, creates a safer environment for stations, makes the place more lively, revitalize the local economy, brings in more revenue through rent revenue, and helps LA County with increased sales tax revenue through goods sold not be done?

    Why do you think train stations in Europe and Asia rents out spaces to retailers and merchants? It’s because for this exact reason!

  9. You would be remiss to not note that Metro’s own Citizen Advisory Council has come up with a position supporting Option 1, eliminate any off-peak/peak fare differential (presumably referring to senior fares), expand transfer window to two hours to be consistent with national standards, and creation of a three day pass to possibly mitigate the 40% increase in day pass costs (above the other categories). They are scheduled to adopt it tonight.

    http://media.metro.net/board/Items/2014/03_march/20140326cac_item4b_ga.pdf

  10. Again Metro dodges the fare cap solution which would attract more riders – fill up and draw down the funds in the TAP card until you hit the daily, 7 day or 30 day cap in which it automatically stops deducting. This will solve the problem of all these confusing need to set up and issue pre-buy Metro passes and would help reduce your costs.

    Confusion is what keep people from riding Metro. They want something simple like fill up gas, forget about it, reload it again when it gets low. Just look at how successful prepaid phones are these days. Reload, gets low, reload again. Just like that. People don’t want to remember all these passes, EZ-Passes, discount fares, transfer fares, different rules apply to other municipal transit agencies, what not.

    But it seems like Metro only wants to hear what they want to hear and dismisses common sense solutions what many have been asking for.

    If we spent so much money on TAP and installing gates and validators, common sense suggests that we move to a fare structure that best utilizes what smart cards are capable of, something that other cities like San Francisco and London have already been doing to the exact same smart card system that was bought from the exact same vendor.

    Yet any notion of this idea is not mentioned anywhere, without any formal explanation. TAP cards remain a “dumb” card with miles away from being a true “smart” card. It’s as if Metro wants to hear none of this so as to push their flat rate fare hike agenda – taking the easy way out instead of doing hard work that taxpayers expect them to do.

  11. Option 1 seems to be the best option here. The problem with Option 2’s peak vs. non-peak pricing is it will create “crushes” right before and right after peak pricing goes into effect. The difference in price is fairly substantial, being 50% more expensive to ride peak vs. non-peak (as of Sep 2014). If riding at, say, 6:50 PM is 50% more expensive than riding at 7:00 PM, the 6:50 PM train will be empty and the 7:00 PM train will be packed. In this way you’d actually create more congestion problems than if it was just flat pricing throughout the day.

    I like the 90 minute transfer window, and this will actually save me money on the weekends as I won’t have to buy a day pass when I go on simple excursions involving two rail lines. All around, I think there’s a lot to be excited about here if Metro goes with Option 1.

  12. I have been on these buses and have had drivers get violently argumentative with me inisting that they are right as to where bus stops are despite what your bus schedules state. I have been on this bus full of idiots smoking marijuana, drinking (underage) and god knows what else on the bus. I have been on the bus when someone dropped their switch blade after playing with it on the bus. Whenever I have contacted Metro nobody *ever* follows up. I don’t bother anymore letting y’all know because it always falls on deaf ears. I have been on the bus with people high as kites not keeping their hands to themselves or have the bus driver laugh at me as well as the the passengers when I had some creep place his hands on me (I was 15). It has gotten to the point that I use apps like lyft or uber to save me from unsafe situations on the bus. Most of your fare evaders are being let on by the bus drivers themselves. Usually kids go tell the bus driver that they don’t have money and they come in groups and are loud and obnoxious to boot. Wanna go after fare evaders, stop the bus drivers from allowing them in. Not all bus drivers are bad but a lot of them need some real customer service skills. In addition y’all need to do a better job protecting your drivers. They deal with the craziest of the crazies and have not between them and a threat. No wonder most drivers are bitter and angry. I’ve witnessed them calling the police and waiting forever for help. And afyer all of this you are asking for more money? What about all the tax hikes I have contributed to? I avoid Metro as much as I can and tend to ise smaller bis limes like Santa Monica BBB Or Culver City. Better run and less drama.

  13. I agree with those who say that 90 minutes is not enough. The Blue Line is completely unreliable with constant delays that never makes me get to where I want in time. The other day, the delays were so bad people were waiting close to an hour for the trains to come. So what if I had tapped at the gates and waited over an hour at the platform for the train to come? There’s no way I can get to my transfer point in 30 minutes.

    The transfer time should be increased to 2 hours or Metro needs to find a way to waive it when delays happen.

  14. We were promised with the passage of Measure R, that the extra sales tax would prevent such fare increases for the future and fund projects at the same time.

  15. TAP Cap System, my impression is the TAP folks first want to get it adopted by the last three major munis: Santa Monica, Long Beach and Torrance. They are well aware of the need to deal with the long promised fare capping. Hopefully it will happen before too long. It was supposed to be part of the initial implementation — big disappointment we are belatedly stumbling to have TAP be what it should have from the get go. UGH!

    Ruben, Measure R promised fare relief for just one year not forever

    http://www.metro.net/projects/measurer/

    Kevin Black, OCTA when it was faced with a financial crisis a few years ago did deep service cuts and only as the economy rebounded have some of those been reversed. Which should make folks decrying any fare increase understand the alternative isn’t the status quo but likely reductions in service to balance the budget. The idea that money from “somewhere” will magically fill the gap is fanciful.

  16. Hmm, cost per ride is going up to $2.50.
    Cost of monthly pass is going up to $100.

    The moped idea sounds like a better plan. If I’m going to spend $100 a month, I can buy a cheap moped for $1200, about a year’s worth of monthly passes.

    And moped get great gas mileage, upwards up to 100MPG that even if gas prices go up to $5.00, it still would be $5.00 to fill up a gallon in my tank to go 100 miles. I rarely travel over 5 miles on any given day so $5.00 worth of gas will last me 20 days!

  17. I agree with TAP Cap system that this cannot come soon enough!! The simplest of all things take forever to get done!!! Why is this common sense solution taking such a long time get done?!!! It’s a simple software update, not rocket science! You don’t need any new machines or expensive equipment to do this. You update a code that says IF hit certain amount THEN do not deduct anymore. Any software programmer can do this in less than a day.

    Then again, this is the same people who are working on fixing the TAP website, something that is also taking forever to do, something that they promised by the end of 2013.

    My android smartphone has gone through several updates through the air multiple times since 2010 and Metro cannot even update their own TAP website for the past seven years!!

  18. I personally think the 90 minutes is fine. If you are on the system for anything close to half a day you should have to pay more than the base one-way fare. As far as the claim that 90 minutes cannot be done, because there might be a train delay, that is a little silly. I have ridden over 100 times and never experienced an hour delay. If it did happen, big deal – I might have to pay another $2 for a transfer. Today, I’d have to pay $1.50, so that is an extra 50 cents. Wow, an extra 50 cents for something that happens at most to the average person a few times a year. The horror. People just like to complain.

  19. Matt,

    Just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean others don’t. Not everyone travels the same distance than you do. One person may have a transfer along a total travel distance of 5 miles. Ninety minutes is enough for them. Others may have a transfer along a total travel distance of 20 miles. Ninety minutes might be cutting too short for them.

    A significant delay on the Blue Line can affect a person going from Long Beach to 7th/Metro and may not be able to transfer to the Red or Purple Lines in time, more than a person who takes the Blue Line, but a shorter transfer distance from Pico to 7th/Metro.

    Again, your transit patterns differ from person to person. Not everyone has a shorter ride like you do where “90 minutes” is more than fine for the transfer trip that you take.

  20. All these people who agree with the bus fares being raised have obviously never had to live off of $20 for the week or experienced extreme poverty. Does metro not remember who rides the bus the most? People who can’t afford a car or gas. 62 a month for a student pass? That totals to 722 dollars a year, currently its 384 a year. This is completely ridiculous.

  21. Nicole,

    Metro will never understand your concern unless you tell them how FAR you ride the system. Metro thinks that burger flippers live way out in the suburbs just like everyone else and commute 20 miles into the city to earn minimum wage. Metro operates under the assumption that the “poor travel farther than most people” when it can’t be far from the truth. Metro does not understand that majority of the people in LA are renters and go to school and have jobs nearby.

    You and everyone who feels that the fare hike is unfair need to address the HOW FAR YOU TRAVEL publicly. That’s the only way they’ll learn that they got it all wrong. Where do you live? Where do you work/go to school? How far is it between those places? On how much you have to pay for that ride.

    Why pay the same price when you travel only 5 miles when others pay the same price when they travel 20 miles? When you raise the fare to $2.50 without distance, the 5 mile traveler is paying $0.50 a mile while the 20 mile traveler is paying $0.13 a mile. You, the short distance traveler has to subsidize the longer distance rider.

    It’s common sense people! Why should you pay the same price to go to your neighborhood supermarket when another person pays the same fare to go all the way from Santa Monica to Commerce? It makes no sense at all.

    A more fair system is for fares to start off low and gradually increase depending on distance traveled. Simple TAP in and TAP out. That’s the way it works outside the US, in places where they have better public transit and many people use public transit.

    Go watch the youtube video on how Singapore manages to do it on their buses:

    Oh and the excuses by Metro above where they say “Metro staff say that distance-based fares pose several difficult challenges, namely that Metro currently doesn’t ask bus riders to tap out and that many Metro Rail stations lack gates that serve as a good reminder for people to tap out?”

    That’s your problem to figure out, not ours. We’re paying you as taxpayers to figure it out, then do it! Don’t keep BSing that it can’t be done when we have proof through the access of the internet that it’s working all over the world.

    Metro doesn’t ask bus riders to TAP out? Then ask Singapore how they managed to convert to that system in 2010!

    Metro lacks gates so it can’t be done? The ask Caltrain how they manage to do it without gates!

    Your answers are nothing but excuses.

  22. Blue Line Rider,

    If you are traveling more than 20 miles then a transfer fare is probably in order. People aren’t necessarily entitled to travel 25-30 miles on one fare or $2. In a distanced based fare system, you’d be looking at paying $4-$5 dollars. That is what BART charges for such distances (actually more in some cases).

    Acting like the Blue Line or whatever line goes down for hours at a time on a consistent basis is a false argument. Does it happen once in a while – yes, but even then bus bridges get there before an hour. Sure, someone might get caught paying a transfer when they normally wouldn’t, but it is certainly not something that happens with any frequency.

  23. Nicole,

    Our transportation system is not a welfare system and shouldn’t be treated as such. If someone doesn’t work, then they have big problems paying for just about everything. That is life.

  24. “People aren’t necessarily entitled to travel 25-30 miles on one fare or $2. In a distanced based fare system, you’d be looking at paying $4-$5 dollars. That is what BART charges for such distances (actually more in some cases).”

    I’d say let them. People should start paying for the fair share of the ride depending on how far people want to travel. That’s how Metrolink works. That’s how Amtrak works. That’s how taxi cabs works. That’s how the car works if you think about it too: you fill up gas (money) into the tank, the gas (money) depletes the farther you go, and you fill it up again. That’s how ExpressLanes is charged, by distance as well.

    We’re practically expanding our Metro Rail system beyond LA County. There’s no way we can run a flat rate system in this huge county of ours. You want to go from Sylmar to San Pedro, then pay $5.00 to get there.

    As you stated, our transit system is not a welfare system and shouldn’t be treated as such. You want to go somewhere that’s farther away, then pay for the fair share of it. You have a 5 mile transit, then pay 5 miles, You have a 20 mile transit, then pay the fair share for 20 miles. Simple as that. Why should the 20 mile transit rider be subsidized?

  25. I think paying over 700 dollars a year is fair share enough. No, its not a welfare system but by raising the prices THAT high you put alot of people at risk when it comes to getting them to and from work. Who said anything about not working? Its a matter of working, and still living in poverty.

  26. To the Source writer’s comment on how Metro is trying to crackdown fare evasion:

    First of all, the latched gate system is a complete joke. It takes anyone two seconds to figure out how to sneak in with minimal physical effort. You literally just wave your hand on the other side of the wheelchair accessible entry and it opens up automatically because it thinks someone is trying to exit. Or you just slide your legs through the generous opening. Or you wait until someone is exiting and then slide in past them. So many ways to do it and you call this “latched”?? It’s a joke! Study cities like Atlanta’s MARTA who have a much more rigid turnstile that makes it difficult to jump over, crawl under, or slide in and out of. I agree that we should have better turnstiles than the current ones that actually make the people burn some calories trying to sneak on. Also, make it necessary to TAP out when exiting.

    Second, the problem with homelessness and panhandling is out of control on Metro. The homeless, who we all know, never pay and are always riding & annoying paying customers. You want to make Metro a more viable option for commuters, how about start with making it less disgusting. No one wants to be bothered with panhandling on the way to work. No one wants to sit next to a homeless person coughing incessantly or placing their month old bandaged foot up on the seat across from you. It’s like carpooling with hitchhikers. You want a deaf man yelling in your face for money and then throwing his arms in the air when you deny him? Yea, most people don’t. Most people would rather just drive. Raise the prices and even less people will want to deal with that nonsense. Keep Metro clean and full of people who should be on there AKA people who pay! If better turnstiles are not placed on the Metro stops coming to Santa Monica with Expo Phase 2, Metro is going to have an even bigger problem. Where do you think all those homeless people who line 3rd Street Promenade are going to go? Yup, you guessed it. Don’t make Expo Phase 2 a multimillion dollar homeless shelter on wheels.

    Third, the Sheriff’s need to do more about fare evaders. I have a monthly pass and ride Metro every day of the week. You know what Sheriff’s do when a person hasn’t tapped? They TAP their card for them as they exit and let them go on their way. What is the threat of punishment with that type of action? Worst case scenario they’re going to have to pay for this ride/best case scenario they get a free ride. You don’t TAP you get a ticket period. Also, Sheriffs need to just stop asking the homeless to leave the train because you know what the homeless do? Shocking! They leave the train, make a lap, and come right back on the train. There is no punishment, so there is order. The homeless have NOTHING to lose. I see the same 10 homeless people everyday so I know the Sheriff’s have to recognize them too, but they do nothing about it. I should just wear dirty clothes on my commute and then I can ride for free too! I know fare evasion won’t solve the financial problem, but making the ride more comfortable, cleaner, and safer will help make people who are turned off by public transit give it another go.

  27. Sounds like some are in favor of “Fare Zones” Exactly how would the MTA enforce them on buses? Previously when we had them the bus operator had to exit his seat numerous times on the line to collect fare zone tickets. It’s a real pain on buses with a standing load.

  28. The issue with counterfeit paper transfers is moot. Every one is on RFID cards now (TAP) and those cannot be copied or hacked…

  29. mike dunn,

    Have you viewed the Youtube video that No Fare Hike posted on how Singapore manages to do it with smart cards without the need of “bus operator had to exit his seat numerous times on the line to collect fare zone tickets” that you are worried about?

    Singapore, a world class city with millions of people taking public transit everyday, changed from a flat rate bus fare system to a kilometer based distance based one in 2010. The fact that Singapore managed to do it is good enough reason to debunk Metro’s claims that it can’t be done.

    Let me repeat again, we use TAP. We don’t use tickets anymore. TAP is a smart card. It is capable of a lot more things than just loading up passes. It is powerful and has a lot more features like auto reloads, auto caps, and capability to do distance based fares. Why are we then not utilizing what TAP is capable of after spending so much money on it?

  30. Nicole,

    Someone has to pay for the cost of service. If you feel a certain amount is enough that is fine, but you are really just asking your neighbors (aka the taxpayers) to cover your costs. If I go to the grocery store and I think a gallon of milk shouldn’t cost more than a $1, I don’t go ask my neighbors/taxpayers to pay the difference.

  31. Matt,

    In the context of how Metro operates, it’s more like “it’ll be the same $1.00 price whether you buy 1 gallon of milk or 10 gallons of milk. One gallon of milk is $1.00, ten gallons of milk is still the same $1.00.”

    Essentially, that’s what Metro is doing today. Taxpayers subsidize the rides of those who travel farther. And Metro’s plan is to make short distance riders subsidize the fares for those who travel farther by making everyone pay the same jacked up $2.50 whether they use Metro to go to the neighborhood supermarket or from Sylmar to San Pedro.

    Why is this being done? Under the false pretense that the poor tend to travel longer distances. Yet, somehow I find it difficult to imagine that McDonald’s burger flippers live way out in nice homes out in the suburbs and commute into the city to just earn minimum wage. If you live in Sylmar, you don’t go to work for McDonald’s in San Pedro, you work at a McDonald’s in Sylmar.

  32. Why would anyone worry about bus drivers stopping the bus and checking zone fares when we have TAP today? It’s like thinking about how it was done back in the 1950s when we have 21st century technology that solves those problems.

    Just look at how BART operates using the ClipperCard system. You tap in when you enter the station, you tap out upon exiting the station, and fares are deducted by the distance within milliseconds.

  33. Bay Area and Josh
    Tap cards used on rail with tap in , tap out does work like in San Francisco. I’m talking about buses. You tap in but unless you also have to tap out how would the operator know if you paid the fare zone? And remember, last I checked the MTA was still accepting cash fares. If someone were to board a bus without a tap card, are they refused service? All these ideas sound great but for someone like myself who has experienced many years of providing public transit I think I know what has worked and what has not.

    Lastly, people who live in Asian Countries tend not to lie about their distination. Can we say the same when dealing with MTA passengers?

  34. This is for the commenter who noted that many people live on $20 a week or less in spending money. Here’s the truth. The reason I’m taking the bus at the age of 40 is because of all the bad choices I made when I was 20, 25 and 30. At some point, those of us who (blanked) up our lives have to accept that it isn’t society’s fault we’re broke for the rest of the week, after we pay all of our bills.

    I hate riding the bus in L.A. It’s a degrading, exhausting and worthless experience. However, if I owned a car, I’d be completely broke. I make a decent living, as long as I don’t own a car, which requires gas, maintenance and insurance. So I put up with the bus.

  35. mike dunn,

    Have you looked at the Youtube video? IT’S A BUS! IT SHOWS HOW SINGAPORE DOES DISTANCE BASED ON BUSES, USING CONTACTLESS CARDS OKAY?

    WATCH IT. IT SHOWS YOU HOW THEY DO IT IN ACTION! IT’S ALL COMPUTERIZED AND AUTOMATIC. YOU TAP IN, IT RECORDS WHERE YOU GOT ON. YOU TAP OFF WHEN YOU GET OFF THE BUS, IT AUTOMATICALLY DEDUCTS THE FARE BASED ON KILOMETERS TRAVELED.

    WATCH THE VIDEO. YOU SEE IT IN ACTION, ALL OF IT!

    You keep saying stuff without even glancing at the video. Watch it first.

    Sheesh. Baby Boomers! So technologically challenged, no wonder we get nothing done. They’re so stuck in the 1950s mindset that you literally have to force these people to watch a video.

  36. Mr. Mike Dunn,

    In all the years of riding public, has there been anytime where contactless cards were used for distance based pricing models onto buses?

    I’ve been going Metro for 33 years, when it was called RTD, and there was never a time I recall contactless cards being used for tag in/tag off distance based pricing models.

    Some of the issues you raised are easily solvable:

    “You tap in but unless you also have to tap out how would the operator know if you paid the fare zone?”

    You don’t need to. There is no need to show the bus operator anything. All you do is tap off when you exit the bus. If you do not tap off, you’re charged maximum fare. Since people do not want maximum fare deducted, they will learn early on that they need to tag off.

    “If someone were to board a bus without a tap card, are they refused service?”

    This is simple too. Just charge cash riders fixed fares. When you use a contactless card, you get a discounted price for pay by the distance. If you use cash, you pay a fixed rate. That way, it provides an incentive for people to get a contactless card instead.

  37. Ted Chin
    What goes on in Singapore is one thing and here another. I use a MTA Retired Pass when riding the bus. Sometimes I have to swipe it more than once for it to register. I understand this is also a problem with Tap Cards. When boarding the Bus Operator notify’s the pass holder they need to re-swipe their cards. Who’s going to notify the passengers when they Tap off via two or more doors? Now if a system was developed that recognized a card without physically Tapping off it would work. Concerning charging a cash fare vs a Tap Card fare involving distance traveled I doubt if that is even legal. The difference might not just be a few cents but dollars when the longest lines are involved such as to Disneyland. I know the MTA currently charges for freeway travel and I can’t recall how Tap cards were used and charged. I do know that there WAS a big difference when I drove. The base fare then was 85 cents but if you traveled to San Bernardino, yes the RTD used to go there, the fare was $3.60 as I recall. Would you expect a cash customer would have to pay say $3.60 but only go to Fontana which would be $2.50 using a Tap Card? Again, it may work just fine in Singapore but just the different cultural differences may make it impossible here. I’m sure the Honor System would work for instance in anywhere in Asia but it’s been proved to be a complete failure at the MTA.